I’m aware that the books I review on this blog are a pretty weird bunch. I don’t know if any of you read all of them, or if you simply use the ones that are in your wheelhouse. But if you’ve ever wondered why I review what I do, this is why.
I’m an indie writer. Four or five years ago I started reviewing indie fiction for Big Al and Pals, the premier review site for indie work. Suddenly a lot of indie books from all sorts of genres from SF through (a lot of) fantasy to YA and literary fiction started coming to my notice, not just from Big Al. Because I write books that hover at the fringes I am interested in seeing what other hoverers are writing. And I have a mind that flits and sips like a butterfly. Boredom is my enemy.
I don’t do horror, I don’t do soppy kissing, and I’m usually bored by police procedurals. I enjoy genre mash-ups, as a rule. And I will read anything else, if it is well-written. I check that with a Kindle sample before I start. If I become too disappointed as the book unfolds I stop reading. Simples.
If the book merits a 3* review or better I will review it. I don’t give shitty reviews, but I do speak as I find. So if (for example) your punctuation is a mess, or you have a massive plothole, I will say so. Because you can fix those problems, right? And you should. Your reader deserves the best you can do.
I know Indies often can’t afford an editor. And I have seen some ‘professionally edited’ work that made me weep for the poor sucker who had paid good money for bad service. So if we all help each other, we make better books. Which is better for everyone.
And what, you may ask, makes me such a know-it-all when it comes to reviewing books? I taught creative writing at university level for eight years. Doing that, I learned a lot about my own writing and writing in general – what makes stories flow, what gives them pace; what makes stories flabby or hard to follow; what punctuation is helpful to sense and what gets in the way. And, of course, I had to find a way to express that – tactfully and helpfully – to students. Circumstances insisted that I stop teaching. But this is what I bring to reviewing.